National

12,000 buildings could collapse in quake-hit Kyushu

Kyodo

More than 12,000 houses and other buildings are in danger of collapsing in areas struck by powerful earthquakes last month, government officials said Saturday.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry has collected reports from municipalities in Kumamoto Prefecture on more than 43,000 buildings and found 12,013 of them to be “dangerous” because they could collapse due to aftershocks or other occurrences.

The number is bigger than the 11,699 designated as hazardous following the March 2011 earthquake off Tohoku, even though officials said it is difficult simply to compare the two figures because lots of houses were swept away by the tsunami spawned by the 2011 quake.

Quakes of magnitude 6.5 and 7.3 hit Kumamoto Prefecture on April 14 and 16, respectively, killing at least 49 people.

The region still appears to be seismically active, with a magnitude-4.5 temblor jolting nearby Oita Prefecture on Friday.

The government is compiling an extra budget to finance reconstruction and support measures for people affected by the quakes in Kumamoto and Oita.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet is expected to submit the draft supplementary budget for fiscal 2016 to the Diet in mid-May.

“I want each ministry and agency to take every necessary step without hesitation,” Abe told a meeting of government officials to discuss emergency responses to the quakes.

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